Duke Energy crews responded to widespread power outages this weekend and found signs of vandalism of equipment at different sites – including two substations that had been damaged by gunfire. Now the FBI is joining the investigation.
The company experienced multiple equipment failures affecting substations leaving about 45,000 customers without power in Moore County, North Carolina. The power went out Saturday evening, just after 7 p.m. Authorities announced a mandatory curfew from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m., starting Sunday night
"An attack like this on critical infrastructure is a serious, intentional crime and I expect state and federal authorities to thoroughly investigate and bring those responsible to justice," North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said on Twitter.
"Duke Energy is pursuing multiple repair paths to restore as many customers as possible, as quickly and safely as possible," said Jason Hollifield, Duke Energy’s general manager, Emergency Preparedness. "This is a significant local outage that is affecting nearly all customers in Moore County. While some customers will be restored sooner, most customers should be prepared for an extended outage that could last until Thursday.”
Hollifield added that crews were working 24-hour shifts to make repairs and restore service to all impacted customers. Several large and vital pieces of equipment were damaged in the event. Repairing the equipment is a multi-step process that will take several days to complete. Once repairs are made, the company must test the equipment before beginning the final restoration process.
"FERC is monitoring the events in North Carolina," Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chair Rich Glick said. "The security & reliability of our grid remains the top priority as DukeEnergy works to restore services."
Due to the nature of the damage, the company is working with local, state and federal agencies on their ongoing investigation into this incident. At this time, there is no information on a possible motive. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is also investigating.